A woman I loved

I hate reminiscing while writing especially when I am writing a blog. But then, to write is to reminisce in a way. One has to write from a memory. This particular memory may not always be personal or something that actually happened to you, but may be just something that you witnessed or your opinion on the way things were when you were a certain age and your take on how they have changed (almost always for the worse) since then. However, this is our best side, because seldom do we get angry or upset when we reminisce.

Things from our past that left us heartbroken once might still make us cry, but the sadness is replaced with bittersweet melancholy which holds no place for depression. Events which have made us angry always seem so foolish in hindsight. I, for one am never able to recall the reason why I was so angry or sometimes, even if I was angry. All the hurt and heartbreak assimilates into memories, memories that may be sweet or sour depending on the palate of choice, but they are never quite useless. Those who tell us to forget the past, don’t know its value. It makes us who we really are, shaped by our bad habits, our questionable life choices and the things we did for those we loved. These are important things, valuable things, things not to be taken lightly because we want to succeed in life. Looking to the future or living in the present does not have to entail letting go of the memories we built, through love and through friendships and through pain and through pleasure.

I am casually reminded of one such event from my life. The memory of a beautiful old lady dressed in white, massaging my hands and feet. She had very few teeth I think, but lot of hair on her head, at least for her age. She was old beyond measure, but was also wise and kind beyond measure. She had but one identity for me. She was ‘Nani’. Actually, she wasn’t. She was my dad’s grandmother. But since everybody called her ‘nani’, I took to calling her ‘Nani’ as well. But the time I am talking about, I was not even three years old and barely knew who was what. I am not even supposed to remember anything from that age. Most people don’t. But, I do. It is not a continuous chain of memories, but just flashes, sometimes in color, sometimes in black and white, and sometimes, I can just see the sun shining beyond the red brick boundary wall, that divided the courtyard. I can barely remember anything she ever said to me. Maybe she never did, or may be in human terms, they don’t mean a thing except the gibberish one speaks to a child meant to show love. Nevertheless, I have seen more love being expressed in that incomprehensible language of and for children, than I have, in words, gifts or gestures. Even though not a word was spoken between the two of us, nani will always remain one of the first women I loved. She never said anything, but she taught me to be a little kind, a little compassionate, a little loving, a little caring and a little bit of everything else that makes us human, or rather better human beings. She passed away almost a decade ago, in the December Winter of 1998. I have talked about her several times, with a lot of people since then. My father has better memories of her. He knew her better. So did my uncles. So did my mother and my sister. I probably knew her very little, in this estimation at least. But sometimes, there is a bond, a bond too difficult to fathom for the human mind or language, a bond that persists, even in death, even in forgetting, even in erasure. Despite the factum of time, it survives.

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